The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
As the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) updates rules for oil and gas drilling on federal land, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) released yesterday National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing: Balancing Energy Needs, Nature and America’s National Heritage. This new report examines the impact of existing, proposed and potential oil and gas development on America’s national parks and offers recommendations to ensure future drilling safeguards public health and the environment.
“Our national parks are America’s most treasured places, and we need to treat them carefully as we develop the nation’s natural gas and oil,” said NPCA Vice President for the Center for Park Research Jim Nations. “Our research revealed that some national parks are already in peril. Unless we take quick action, air, water, and wildlife will experience permanent harm in other national parks as well.”
Recommendations in the NPCA’s report include:
- BLM require that the identity of the chemicals be disclosed to the public before drilling begins, that all flowback waters be stored in closed-loop containers and treated before they are allowed to reenter public waters
- The National Park Service receive the designation of formal “cooperating agency” under the National Environmental Protection Act when there is a reasonable likelihood that national park air, water, wildlife or other resources will be affected by oil and gas activities on BLM land
- The industry provide and pay for a comprehensive water quality monitoring plan for all park waters that might potentially be impacted
- EPA implementation of a regulation to cut 95 percent of ozone and toxic emissions from natural gas wells developed through fracking and take effect in 2015, take effect today and be expanded to cover existing and future wells
The report’s five case studies analyze national parks that are already in the path of the fracking boom, including: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Obed Wild and Scenic River.
While visitors are continuing to enjoy free entrance to national parks this National Park Week, this report is a stark reminder that drilling rigs could obscure scenic views, vehicles could transport invasive species into park boundaries, drilling activity could lead to a loss of biodiversity and popular star-gazing plans could be interrupted by gas flaring and drill pad lights.
“We should not gamble with the health of our national parks,” Nations said. “Oil and gas resources can be accessed without sacrificing our most important natural areas and most revered historic places.”
Click here to sign a petition to tell the Bureau of Land Management to issue strong rules for federal fracking leases on public lands.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.
The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
By George Citroner
- Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
- Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
- Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.
Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.